This Man’s World

I’m sure you would agree that a man’s world and a woman’s world are two fundamentally different places.  Strange lands.  Alien territory.  Different languages.  You get the idea.

I wrote a story for my wife for Valentine’s Day this year.  If you have had some challenges in bringing these two worlds together, I offer you the reading of this story.  You may just find a nugget or two of truth that may help bring into clarity something that is currently blurred for you.  I hope you enjoy it:

As a man, I sit upon the throne of my male world. It is a unique position that gives me a view like no other, one that extends to the furthest reaches of my domain. This domain consists of vast and varied landscapes that grow more beautiful with each passing day. Places like the Land of The Dream, the Land of Marriage, the Land of Family, the Land of Friends, the Land of Church and the Land of The Workplace are easily viewed from this regal throne.

These lands are separated by rivers, like spokes on a wagon wheel. At the center of the “wheel” are the headwaters. Known as The Godhead, it is the source of the rivers that flow out between each Land, providing all the Life needed to sustain each one.

At one time, however, the scenic beauty of some of these Lands was absent. They were dry and arid with little if any life to be found at all.

Then God gave me you.

Without even trying, you brought life to the Lifeless Places. You completed everything that was incomplete. You did something that had never been done before: You made me whole. And, just as importantly, you helped me discover what had up to that time been an uncharted territory: the Land of Here And Now. Since that time, I have come to realize that you hold the Sacred Treasure Map to that Land, given to you by God Himself.

Now, looking over this male world of mine are two thrones. One is, of course, mine. The other, my sweet Beth, belongs to you. You, my soul mate, complete me. You are the cool breeze on a scorching August afternoon. You are the gentle kiss of moonlight as it rests upon the waters. You are the laughter of a thousand children on the darkest of days.

You are my everything.

Now we sit upon the two thrones, hand-in-hand as we look over my domain. You look on in awe and wonder as I point to different Lands and the things we can see coming towards us on the distant horizon. Then, still holding my hand, you walk me down into my world.

Without fail, we always enter my world below through the Land of Here And Now. And then it is my turn to be in awe and wonder! For I find that as we walk the length and breadth of the different Lands of my world, we are at the same time still in your world of the Land of Here And Now. With absolute skill, you continue to use your God-given map to show me amazing treasures to behold as my own every day.

What a beautiful union of two worlds! I could never have asked for a more wonderful, incredible and more amazing woman to be by my side. I am so glad it was you!

Forever Yours,

Matthew

A Mountain of Inner-tubes

My Mom’s brother and his family have lived in Arizona for years.  When you live in a state like that, there’s not much use for inner-tubes.  (At least not like there is in Northern Michigan!)  For one particular summer, though, they found out just how important inner-tubes are for making things interesting at the beach.

One of my cousins–Heather was her name–was about eight months older than me.  So as cousins go, we were relatively close as a result.  She and one of her girlfriends came with my Aunt and Uncle to our family cabin with us one summer when I was around fifteen.  As you can imagine, that was exciting for me on multiple levels.  Being a testosterone-ravaged teenager, I was keenly aware of Heather’s girlfriend (her name was Marian).  Oh, yeah, and I got to be with my cousin, too.

(Left to Right): Dad, Marian, Heather, Uncle Dick, Mitch (my brother), Mom and myself (my Aunt Joyce was taking the picture)

Do you remember the stories involving the family cabin on Carp Lake in northern Michigan?  Well, in the boathouse down by the lake there were always a couple of smaller inner-tubes.  My brother and I used them as kids to float along the shoreline and look for interesting rocks.  As we got older and sometime prior to the Arizona family coming up, Dad decided to get us all our own inner-tubes.  Big ones for my brother and I and an absolutely huge one for he and Mom. Mine was slightly larger than my brother’s (being the older brother, I dictated that the larger one was mine).  We eventually discovered something intoxicatingly fun, though.  We could stack all five of these inner-tubes on top of each other and have it look something like this:

We’d create this inner-tube mountain, attempt to climb to the top of it and then balance long enough to stand.  Once there, the other brother would try to disrupt the inner-tubes enough to dethrone the occupant at the top of the mountain.  This, of course, would send the self-imposed dictator toppling down the mountain or sailing through the air.  Either way, it was a good five feet to the water below.  Sometimes, though, the trip down was through the middle of the inner-tubes.  This usually resulted in the inner-tube nozzles raking across the rib cage as the dethroned fell to his demise.  As entertaining as this was, however, it just wasn’t as adventurous as we had imagined it would be.  So we found the excitement we were really after with these inner-tubes was located on Lake Michigan (about ten miles from the cabin).

(Stage Left):  Enter the Arizona crew.

We loaded up all of the inner-tubes and all drove out to the Big Lake.  On this particular day, the wind had the waves at a perfect height of a foot or so.  Getting out into chest-high water, pulling a mountain of inner-tubes to climb, with waves a foot high tossing them about….now that’s adventure!

So we did that for a while, ate lunch, laid out on the beach and eventually found ourselves doing our own thing.  My Uncle and Marian were playing catch with a water-soaked Nerf football in water that wasn’t quite chest-high depth.  I was laying on the monster inner-tube relatively close to Marian as I lazily watched this game of catch unfold.

It might be important to note that in my observations of Marian, I had noticed that she was fairly competitive when we played games of any sort.  So as she and my Uncle tossed the football back and forth, things got more and more interesting.  My Uncle kept getting further away from Marian and throwing the ball a little harder as he did so.  Now, Lake Michigan water is typically on the cold side.  When there’s any kind of wind, the water feels warmer if you just stay in it.  So Marian was crouching down in the water whenever she didn’t have the football.  As a result, this made it appear that she was in water up to her shoulders.

It was during one of these many throws and catches between my Uncle and Marian that shock and awe ensued.  My Uncle lobbed a long throw with that heavy, water-soaked Nerf football.  In Marian’s crouching position, it was going to sail well over her head.  So without thinking much about it, she launched herself out of the water and into the air to get that ball.  Did I mention that Marian had a tube-top bikini on that day?  Actually, to be accurate, at this point she was suddenly wearing only half of it.  She went up and her tube-top went down.  And I got a Howard Cosell play-by-play close-up of the action since I was only five feet from her when this happened.

As you can imagine, she immediately went for cover.  By that point, however, I had turned my head the other way for a few seconds to give her time to do just that.  I was laughing about it as I turned my head back around to where she was (thankfully, she was too).  She handled it very well, considering what had just happened.  She slowly came up out of the water with everything where it should be and asked, “So, did you like the free show?”

As a teen-age boy, I couldn’t deny that this had been a rather interesting situation.  But I was far more focused on something far more important:  My “flesh” definitely wanted to keep looking at what it suddenly had an opportunity to look at; but the work God had been doing in me even to that point of my life meant that I knew that the right thing to do was to look away.  And I did that!  It’s a good feeling when you see yourself do something that’s right without even thinking about it.

Marian and my Uncle continued to play catch, but she no longer crouched in the water.  Wise move on her part……

King On The Mountain

Do you remember playing “King On The Mountain” as a kid?  Also known as “King Of The Mountain” in some circles, it’s a power-hungry game for children (and some adults).  If you happen to be unfamiliar with this game, here is a brief but accurate description.

As children play innocently together, one of them looks up and sees something that is able to be climbed.  (This could be a pile of anything:  snow….dirt….tires….manure….anything worth climbing and dominating.)  The child moves closer, getting the attention of all the other kids.  With a gleam in his eye as he passes by, the other kids begin to follow.  As this child climbs to the top, however, a subtle but steady change begins to take place.  What was, just moments ago, a sweet and gentle persona has morphed into that of a merciless dictator.

Once at the top, the Hitler protégé attempts to do everything within his power to keep everyone else off.  Slaps across the face, kicks to the groin, pushes and pulls, yanks and yinks–anything goes to keep that dominant position.  (Yinks are an advanced form of yanks and should only be attempted when playing this game.)  When all attempts to unseat this self-imposed ruler have been vanquished, everyone involved is instantly bored with it (except the dictator) and the game is suddenly over.

Now that this foundation has been laid, catch up with me next time and I’ll share with you something that happened in northern Michigan one summer!